Technological breakthrough in the development of tank-borne laser weapons

Nearly everyone (well, nearly every male) who has seen enough science fiction has fantasized about laser weapons strong enough to knock-out enemies in flash of concentrated energy traveling at the speed of light. Poof! 

Well, they just got real. Nearly. reports:

Lockheed Martin has completed the design, development and demonstration of a 60 kW-class beam combined fiber laser for the U.S. Army.

In testing earlier this month, the Lockheed Martin laser produced a single beam of 58 kW, representing a world record for a laser of this type. The Lockheed Martin team met all contractual deliverables for the laser system and is preparing to ship it to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Ala. (snip)

"We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air."

In other words, we could be seeing weapons that look like this rendering:

The key is scalability:

Lockheed Martin's laser is a beam combined fiber laser, meaning it brings together individual lasers, generated through fiber optics, to generate a single, intense laser beam. This allows for a scalable laser system that can be made more powerful by adding more fiber laser subunits. The laser is based on a design developed under the Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program, and further developed through investments by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army into a 60kW-class system.

Instead of needing one ultra-powerful beam, which would challenge materials technology among other issues, assemble and combine beams that are well within existing capabilities. You can add as many of these (sort of) off-the-shelf items as needed for a beam powerful enough to be effective.

Big Fur Hat offers this wonderful, if anachronistic image of the way airborne attackers could be vanquished.

Disclaimer: Of course, powerful weapons can (and will) be abused, often in horrific ways. So many people (mostly on the left) might fear this and wish that Pandora’s Laser Weapons Box remain unopened. Try selling that to China.

Pardon my boyish enthusiasm, but this is so cool….